If your son has a testicle not located in the scrotum, his doctor will determine its location in the groin. Once it's located, the doctor will attempt to guide it gently into its proper position in the scrotum.
Your son may be lying down, sitting or standing during this examination. If your son is a toddler, the doctor might have him sit with the soles of his feet touching and knees to the sides. These positions make it easier to find and manipulate the testicle.
If the testicle is a retractile testicle, it will move relatively easily and won't immediately move up again.
If the testicle in the groin immediately retreats to its original location, it's most likely an undescended testicle.
Retractile testicles don't require surgery or other treatment. A retractile testicle is likely to descend on its own before or during puberty. If your son has a retractile testicle, your son's doctor will monitor any changes in the testicle's position in annual evaluations to determine if it stays in the scrotum, remains retractile or becomes an ascending testicle.
Coping and support
If your son has a retractile testicle, he might be sensitive about his appearance. To help your son cope:
- Explain in simple terms what a retractile testicle is.
- Remind him that there's nothing wrong with him.
- Explain that the position of the testicle is something you, your son and his doctor will pay attention to and fix, if necessary.
- Help him practice a response if he's teased or asked about the condition.
Preparing for your appointment
Your son's doctor can usually diagnose a retractile testicle. However, if there is any question about the diagnosis or need for immediate treatment, you might be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary disorders and problems with male genitals in children (pediatric urologist).
Be prepared to answer the following questions on your child's behalf or to help him answer questions:
- Were both testicles previously identified as descended in a well-baby or annual exam?
- When did you notice the absence of the testicle in the scrotum?
- Have you observed this before?
- Has your child experienced any pain in his testicles or groin?
- Has your son ever been treated for a hernia?
- Has your son experienced any trauma to his genitals or groin?
Dec. 22, 2018
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- Kliegman RM, et al., eds. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal content. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 28, 2018.
- Cooper CS, et al. Undescended testes (cryptorchidism) in children: Clinical features and evaluation. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 28, 2018.
- Cooper CS, et al. Undescended testes (cryptorchidism) in children: Management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 28, 2018.
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- Undescended testes and retractile testes. Merck Manual Consumer Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/birth-defects-of-the-urinary-tract-and-genitals/undescended-testes-and-retractile-testes. Accessed Nov. 29, 2018.
- Standring S, et al., eds. Anterior abdominal wall. In: Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. 41st ed. New York, N.Y.: Elsevier Limited; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 29, 2018.
- Kurz D, et al. Current management of undescended testes. Current Treatment Options in Pediatrics. 2016;2:43.
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